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The Neo-Confederate Roots of Off-Year Governor Elections

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Why are so many governor elections in non-presidential years? The answer depends on state, like so much else in American life. But in Florida at least, the election was moved off the presidential year in order to preserve white supremacist power:

Or maybe just like 1961.

That’s the year Florida Democrats changed the rules.

And to increase turnout and win, Florida Democrats should change the rules back in 2016.

According to legendary journalist Martin Dyckman, in 1961, Democrats were scared of presidential election cycles screwing up their dominance of state government, specifically Nixon vs. Kennedy.

So, instead of allowing JFK to be a drag on the (conservative) Democratic ticket, the Florida Legislature amended the Constitution, requiring the Governor and the Florida Cabinet to be elected in midterm, non-presidential election cycles.

This resulted in racist segregationist Democrat Haydon Burns serving an abbreviated two-year term. In 1968, the new rules were further cemented in the Florida Constitution.

Today, because of this change, about 2.5 million presidential cycle voters entirely ignore the Governor and the Florida Cabinet.

In short, knowing that poorer and younger voters don’t come out for midterm elections, the Florida white supremacist power structure changed the state constitution to ensure voting at a time that would more likely protect their interest. I’d like to know more about this and explore why states have selected their gubernatorial elections on a particular date.

I will also suggest that the staggering of elections is pretty unhealthy for our democracy because the proliferation of political ads turns more people off than on and seeing them 2 or 3 times every 4 years instead of once probably reduces public interest. That’s strictly my speculation though.

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